The United States Department of Justice has confirmed it will allow Google to proceed with its proposed acquisition of ITA Software, however, a series of touch conditions have been laid down.
Under the terms of the agreement Google will be required to develop and license travel software, to establish internal firewall procedures and to continue software research and development.
The DoJ also hinted it may proceed with a wider investigation into Google in the near future, to ascertain whether the internet giant manipulates search results to the detriment of rivals.
The department said the proposed settlement would protect competition for airfare comparison and booking websites and ensure those websites using ITA’s software will be able to power their websites to compete against any airfare website Google may introduce.
“The Department of Justice’s proposed remedy promotes robust competition for airfare websites by ensuring those websites will continue to have access to ITA’s pricing and shopping software,” said Joseph Wayland, deputy assistant attorney general of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division.
“The proposed settlement assures that airfare comparison and booking websites will be able to compete effectively, providing benefits to consumers.”
ITA Software - headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts - is a leading producer of airfare pricing and shopping systems in the United States.
A $700 million bid from Google is part of a wider strategy designed to ensure its online services stay on top as surfers go mobile and turn to services like Facebook.
Under the proposed settlement, Google will be required to continue to license ITA’s QPX software to airfare websites on commercially reasonable terms.
QPX conducts searches for air travel fares, schedules and availability. Google will also be required to continue to fund research and development of that product at least at similar levels to what ITA has invested in recent years.
Google will also be required to further develop and offer ITA’s next generation InstaSearch product to travel websites, which will provide near instantaneous results to certain types of flexible airfare search queries.
InstaSearch is currently not commercially available, but is in development by ITA.